LOS ANGELES – Playing the Lakers with the fewest league wins and without LeBron James should have been simple. But nets do nothing simple.
The curling started on a shortened Sunday. They finished the match and were defeated, losing 116-103 to a crowd of 18,040 at the Crypto.com Arena.
After shooting the Clippers on Saturday, the gas ran out of nets on the tail end of this back-to-back. They finished the third quarter by three goals but won 36-26 in the fourth – and Anthony Davis dominated them all night long.
“I knew we spent a lot of effort out of Clipper,” coach Jack Vaughn said. “It was important for us to offer the same juice. I thought the guys put in the effort and gave what they had.”
It wasn’t enough. Kevin Durant scored 31 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. But with Kyrie Irving losing the sixth game in a row and Seth Curry a late scratch, they fired 7 for 27 from just a 3-point range.
Ben Simmons was also a late scratcher, losing starting center Nick Claxton to an eye contusion in the third quarter. They were roughed up and exhausted by Davis, who scored 37 points and 18 rebounds, both season highs.
“We were playing in spurts. It was a perfect storm for them: They fired so many shots, they hit the edge, and AD was hard to stop.” “I love the way we fought, back in the game and the third quarter. We had a chance to win, but they made more shots than us, just plain and simple.”
With James nursing an adductor muscle injury, he hasn’t faced Durant since Christmas 2018.
“I didn’t think about it until you started bringing it up,” said Durant, who shed no tears for the Lakers (3-10)……I think it’s great that we’re still so connected in old age that people want to come and watch us We play.” Networks have issues of their own.
“No. I mean, they played really well without him. Normally, he’s a burden to deal with. We need to win recently, so it was supposed to be an easier match, to get them off the ground, but they put in a great performance.”
The Nets, 53-39, fell back after a corner kick from Pat Beverly with 1:49 left in the game, still nine behind in the first half.
Davis had 16 points and 11 boards on the break, and the Nets couldn’t find an answer for him. It only got worse with a loss for Claxton, who took a hit in the face and left the game with the Nets tumbling, 62-50, leaving 8:32 in the third inning. He gave way to Markev Morris and did not return.
The deficit swelled to 77-61 on 3-pointers by Lonnie Walker IV with 3:56 left in the third. That’s when the Nets had their last serious rally. They closed the period on 16-3. It included a strange delay of the match with 9 seconds left – and the nets actually in possession – and Royce O’Neale 3’s pointer to make it 80-77 to finish third.
But the nets did not cross the hump in the fourth. They were only down 91-87 after Durant’s free throws with 8:27 remaining before the Lakers round 15-2, including seven points from Walker and four points from Davis.
“I didn’t even know what the hell happened with that [delay]. They said three plays before that we stood on the bench for too long. I think they asked us to sit down, and that was our second warning. So the people who pay a lot of money behind the bench, they are valuable to the NBA, so we can’t stand in front of them,” Durant said sarcastically. So we have to be more aware of that.”
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